Salt Lake’s Wade LeBlanc put the focus back on baseball Wednesday night at Smith’s Ballpark.
One day after a fight between Albuquerque teammates Alex Guerrero and Miguel Olivo received national attention, LeBlanc scattered four hits over eight innings and pitched the Bees to a 3-0 victory over the Isotopes.
It was a sensational performance by LeBlanc, a 29-year-old left-hander who struck out six, didn’t allow an Albuquerque runner past first base and improved his record to 5-1.
“Awesome,” said Bees’ manager Keith Johnson. “He did a great job. Used all four of his pitches. Was hitting his spots all night long. Kept them off balance. Didn’t let anything get to him. His tempo was great and the guys did a good job behind him. Just a great effort.”
LeBlanc retired the first seven Isotopes and didn’t allow a hit until Miguel Rojas singled to center with one out in the fourth.
Albuquerque hit into three double plays, however, and never threatened.
Asked why he was so effective, LeBlanc said, “Just getting strike one. Getting ahead of guys and not falling behind once I got there. Just continued to stay aggressive and pound the the strike and let the defense work.”
LeBlanc didn’t get a chance for a complete game because Los Angeles Angels’ reliever Dane De La Rosa was scheduled to work as part of an injury rehab assignment.
“You always want to go back out,” LeBlanc said, smiling. “That’s the fourth time in my career I’ve had a chance to get a shutout — a complete game — but a rehab guy had to get an inning. But he’s definitely more important to the Angels than I am.”
Offensively, the Bees got solo homers from Taylor Lindsey and Roberto Lopez. Luis Jimenez, just back down from L.A., contributed an RBI triple.
Just a day earlier, Olivo made infamous headlines by biting Guerrero’s ear while the two players fought in the dugout during a 7-4 loss to Salt Lake.
Olivo has been suspended by the parent Los Angeles Dodgers. Guerrero, a prospect who signed a $28 million contract last winter, is sidelined indefinitely.
The situation didn’t distract LeBlanc or the Bees, however.
“No, not really,” he said. “You have a job to do and, if you let your mind wander into their dugout, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to lose your performance ability.”
Bees 3, Isotopes 0
O Left-hander Wade LeBlanc scatters four hits over eight innings and Salt Lake defeats Albuquerque.
• Taylor Lindsey and Roberto Lopez blast solo home runs for the Bees, who win their second straight game.
• It is Salt Lake’s first shutout of the season.